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Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow

  • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow
  • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow
  • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow

Hi there

I am looking to develop a programme of planting, felling and replanting cricket bat willow for my own cricket bat making business. If anyone knows of anyone selling any mature trees or anyone who would like to get involved in the process i would be very keen to discuss it with them. I have an outline of the process in a PDF document that I can send to anyone who wants to get involved or has any information on any possible locations.


Wes Brookes

Comments (27)

  1. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Hi Wes - We have a 3-acre field in Somerset. It was once an orchard and we've been wondering how best to use it. Willows are native to to our area, so growing Salix alba caerulea for cricket bats is possibly something we could do. The soil is clay and strips of the field are moist/wet. There are lines where the earth was raised for the apple trees (presumably to keep the roots drier).

    Any idea if this land is likely to be suitable? And what sort of yield could we expect compared to replanting apple trees? I imagine the upfront investment may be high and that there is a longish wait before getting a return - and no payback if the trees are not carefully cultivated.

  2. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    I think the field sounds ideal. I have more information on the following page for you to browse - it has all of the details on here. You can download a brochure and find out more about the project on here

  3. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    We are looking for areas to plant, trees to fell and replant, and also looking at all opportunities to increase our future quality of willow to make cricket bats from

  4. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Willow cuttings are almost impossible not to root, unless you plant them on the beach or in the Sahara. You need to keep a stooled stock plant or two really, to provide good cuttings every year.During winter cut the young shoots into lengths about 20cm long and stick them in the ground in a row,. The next year you would normally transplant them, cane and tie them to get the start of a good tree, and then after a couple of years move them to their final site. I've not grown this actual species, but have grown various others over the years.

  5. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    .....or re reading your post I think you have described how to make one. Thanks and sorry for not taking the time to read with more care in the first place !

  6. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Stooled means plants that are cut hard back every year to provide vigorous growth ideal for propagation wood, be that cuttings, graft scions or buds (or basket weaving, but I don't weave baskets)

    Good show from Taylor today, should have picked him before!

  7. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    Yes Taylor is a quality player - held back because of his height I think as they fear he will be an easy target to bounce out on fast tracks. From what I have discovered willow is a very hardy plant that will grow anywhere. From some of the information I have read it is believed that it grows best down south (Kent, Essex, Suffolk). But the very best growing conditions is wet ground - surely that is Lancashire and Yorkshire ?! What do you make of this - is it just a fallacy created by the main 3 willow growers who happen to currently be based in those counties mentioned. I have seen cricket bat willow trees growing on industrial estates that were planted in the heat of summer - which is completely the wrong time - but they seemed to be faring fine all the same.

  8. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Willows usually like damp ground, they are 'pioneer plants', they set seed freely and colonise new ground quickly, as do alder, birch,aspen and sometimes pines. Willows generally prefer damp ground, regardless of species. They hybridise freely though, so it would be important to get original stock from a reliable source to make sure you have the right thing. I think they do particular well in the low lying parts of the east of the country, simply because there is a good depth of decent soil and a high water table. Same reason vegetable crops do well there. No reason they shouldn't thrive somewhere else with suitable conditions. East Anglia also has lovely hot summers meaning plenty of growth when combined with rich. moist soil. A shorter growing season and slower growth rate would probably mean a closer grain and branches nearer together, which wouldn't be so good for a bat, and maybe is why they are not grown in the roses counties.

    Did you ever see Taylor batting with Will Jefferson at Leics. ? Massive height difference! Managed to sneak in watching a bit of Taylor earlier today, he looked very tidy, compact and composed.

  9. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Now you've got me researching it a bit. Apparently the young trees need to be 'rubbed' to take off soft shoots, I used to do that when we grew stems to graft horrible weeping Kilmarnock willows onto. This rubbing stops branches forming and thus knots developing. Although apparently Boycs reckons that there isn't much wrong with having a knot in your bat. White willows can also be prone to a bacterial 'watermark' disease which has to be spotted early. I also have a feeling that there are several wood boring beetle and moth larvae that attack them. We used to get an aphid on ours sometimes, didn't do any harm, but it was a big black aphid that lurked near the bottom of the stems, and if you incidentally grabbed them theses aphids were bright red on the inside, so you thought you'd cut your hand badly!

  10. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    You can take a read of my brochure if you want. Its a relatively new enterprise but I am putting all of the foundations into place -

  11. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    Looking at felling some trees at the minute - there is a huge Willow tree I know of that is twice the size of a normal tree. It was grown for cricket bats, left, and then forgotten until I started enquiring. Its twice the circumference of a normal cricket bat willow tree. Most of it will be low grade heartwood now I'd guess - but some of the upper branches will be more than suitable. Lots of grains great for a bat - but waiting ages for a tree is not great for a bat maker. Knots effect the value and harden the wood around the area. A small knot is fine but a big knot deadens that area of a bat and can cause splitting in the weaker areas around the bat. Plus I think the thinking about knots being bad for a bat comes more from a bat maker than a batsman. Knots are hard to work around - willow is a wood that grows in many direction in terms of its grain structure and you have to work sometimes forwards and sometimes back on bats. The better the grain the easier it is to work and plane the wood in one direction - the worse the wood the more effort that has to go into sculpting a shape. I think bat makers sought the best willow for bat making from their point of view and wouldn't be surprised if this then passed into a batsman's perception of what a good bat is - even though the reality is down to the pressing of the willow more than anything

  12. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    Its a fascinating subject ! If you want why not grow some and I can turn them into bats one day !

  13. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Wood is wonderful material, with so many specific uses, and it is always interesting to find out about it. Interesting that after centuries nothing has been found with qualities to challenge these particular willows. But I like a bit of tradition! Do keep me informed of your progress, and if there is anything horticultural you need to know I'll endeavour to help out. I hope you find some land to use, and some good material to start propagating from.

  14. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Posted that last one a bit late. I might just do that, have some spare damp ground here, currently most of it is wet meadow that I manage for insects, but a few willow tucked away might be an idea. There are a few hornbeam which I am thinking about pollarding for fire wood when they are a bit bigger. Hornbeam id fantastic, really dense, burns hot for so much longer than anything else. It is so tough that it was once used for the moving parts in windmills.

  15. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    I don't know much about hornbeam at all - Oaks, Ash, Beech, Lime, Sycamore, Maple, Elm, Mahogany, Teak, Tulip - worked with these and many more to make all sorts of things. Jarrah and Mukwa two unusual timbers used as railway sleepers in Africa - made furniture out of recycled ones for a local company. Its in my heritage hence the desire to work with it - but also grow it (and cut it down). Try a couple of willows and I would be more than keen to find out how they progress. It just seems logical to me that having your own supply of willow is key to doing well in bat making - especially the way the trade operates and sells it. Smaller bat makers can't get a proper start in the trade due to quantities that have to be bought. You are either forced to upscale too quick for comfort. Many give it up because they can't get good wood to work with in smaller quantities. So my approach is plant the trees and build gradually whilst they grow. Hopefully the timeline of my bat making business and the growth of the trees link up in a few years time !

  16. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    Good morning. Can you get me any young wood from a good tree, not the very tip, but something to take cuttings with? Ideally from long shoots of young wood. Not the very tip, that is not very good for cuttings, but a bit further back? Then perhaps I can get propagating them, can plant a few myself and if anyone else needs stock I could perhaps provide that too. I'll do a bit of research and see if I can find any wood myself in the meantime.

  17. Grower

    Jim Edwards

    Now I have a twisted willow, good for tucking it round the corner and shouting come one.
    Or a pussy willow, good for stroking it to the boundary.
    Salix britzensis good for batting on a bright day.
    Woolly willow for poor shots.
    Crack willow for great shots.
    Basket willow for dropped catches.
    Prostrate willow for hanging around waiting for the openers to get out and alas:
    A weeping willow for looking behind and seeing your bails on the floor.

    But for all that nonsense your batty willows are available at very reasonable cost dry rooted from Ashridge Nurseries on line.
    Good luck Jim

  18. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Ha ha, love it Jim! And if last year is anything to go by, Ashridge drop their prices by 50% at the end of the dry root season in April/May, if that's not too late to get them planted.

  19. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    If thats the case I may take a punt and get some late orders as well as some early ones too ! Willing to take a chance and see if they take. I have a budget for some this winter but a sale might encourage me to try and plant some more out of season.

  20. Grower

    Jim Edwards

    Now is the best time to plant these, treat like hedging plants.
    Purchase 60cm dry root saplings. Using a planting spade thrust this
    into the ground push forward and then pull back to create a V shape hole,
    insert the roots into the aperture and heal well in from both sides, water well
    and place a rabbit guard over. This is a very rapid way of planting is all that is needed and extremely economical.
    If you are going to keep some for planting later just plunge the saplings into a bucket of water and leave till ready.
    If you are going to purchase these in the sale ( after winter ) I would soak these as above and pot up for planting next autumn.
    How's That!

  21. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    Sounds great advice ! Just waiting on a couple of agreements to be approved and then will get started planting. The sooner the better really but its paperwork to process and suchlike before I can

  22. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    If the ground is damp and it is just sections of hardwood cutting, you can usually just push the cuttings in. We do it with all open ground hardwood cuttings, things like privet and Tamarix, not just willows.

  23. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    That sounds really easy ! Once I have planted some older trees to get the process going I can literally cut a few branches off and plant them in the mud and thats all that there is to it (season dependant and soil too) ? The bigger the branch I plant the faster the tree will mature ?

  24. Grower

    Jim Edwards

    Yes I've batted with them before me old duck

  25. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    Just planted 25 big meaty setts that should hopefully grow well so I can use them to grow some more. Decent soil - quite soft and rich for a foot and a half and then soft clay

    • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow
    • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow
    • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow
    • Salix alba caerulea - cricket bat willow
  26. Grower

    Lionheart Cricket

    Looking for some new places to plant some more trees if anyone on here is interested. My trees have taken - all but 4 with leaves now. 2 in shadow so they've been colder for longer (summer slow to start this year what with the snow on April 30th) so should bud soon. One still dormant for the same reason I think - so still hopeful for all 25 to come through. But got the bug now and want to plant a good number more

  27. Grower

    Ben Raskin

    Hi There - thinking of planting some as part of agroforestry project in Wiltshire if you are still looking for sites

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